Reading : opening up the conversation

Promoting reading and a love of books can at times be challenging, it can be frustrating spending time helping a class only to find the trolleys full of books when the bell goes. This term I’m working on changing this, by putting together a variety of lessons to see if I can engage our students.

Just like many other school libraries we are in the process of genrefying our collection, our main reason for doing so was to help increase our students confidence when choosing a book. Many students will spend most of their library time wandering aimlessly among the shelves, in the hope that a book will somehow grab their attention.  My view is that these students lack confidence in their ability to select a ‘good’ book.

To address the changing of our collection and the need to increase the confidence of my students I have started a small unit on genre where we are completing a series of games and activities.  The aim of each lesson is not to find a ‘good’ book, but to learn little bit more about the different genres that we have in the library.

The lessons thus far…

Lesson 1: Our expectations

genre tokens

In this lesson students had to discuss and record what their expectations are for the different genres, for example, what do we expect from a romance novel? Love, break ups and make ups etc.  They also had to share with the class what genre they enjoyed the most.  This was a great way to open the floor and establish prior knowledge.

Lesson 2: Guess the Genre

Genre study

Firstly the students had to guess the genre based on the cover of the book, I then read out the blurb of books and asked them to match the blurb to the correct cover and decide if they needed to change their genre – this created some interesting discussion.  The final activity for the lesson involved genre tokens and our travelling bookcase. Students were asked to match their token to the right book – again only using the cover as a guide.  We finished off with a discussion.

What was interesting ,was that students that don’t normally stay engaged when discussing books/reading were joining in the discussion, and by the time we got to the third activity the enthusiasm had escalated and things started to get slightly competitive!

Lesson 3: Which Genre am I?

Students now have to select ta novel from a genre they don’t normally read, for some this will require that they step outside their comfort zone.  I don’t expect them to read the entire novel, although I know many of them will. We will then discuss the novels, our expectations, the reality and our opinions on the genre. The aim is simply to expose them to a new genre and open up the conversation.





Speed Dating

Speed dating, the perfect, non-committal way to be introduced to someone/ thing new.  In my case, science fiction.


Photo credit: kellepics from


Our year nine students are about to embark on studying the science fiction genre in their English classes.  So we thought, what better way to introduce them to the genre than by showing them the LibGuide we have created on the genre and exposing them to a variety of novels via speed dating with a book.

I decided to join in the fun, not being a fan of Sci-Fi I thought this was the perfect opportunity to see how successful this activity can be in introducing students to new books.  Below is a copy of my notes, the students were asked to create the three columns and complete with the relevant information.

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At the start of the activity, the majority of students are inevitably reluctant, they are being asked to step outside their comfort zone instead of nestling up to a familiar novel, author or genre. But, once we were underway silence descended and the students were eager to talk about their first impressions when the timer went off.

As for me, I enjoyed the activity and it seems the students did too. This activity can be developed further by possibly having each student borrow something new and possibly even create a report on it to share with the class – something to the think about for next time. But for now, I have two new books to add to my list so I better hurry up and finish my book!